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NEWS | Oct. 3, 2012

Embrace Mr. Automated, but trust and verify with him daily

By Master Sgt. Eric Rainer 15th Airlift Squadron first sergeant

The 2012 summer Primary Change of Station season is winding down and I had the pleasure of participating in the process this year.

Now that the peak season is over, I find myself asking this question, "Who is Mr. Automated?"

This guy must be a millionaire from all the money he has saved. He obviously came from Thomas Edison's gene pool and went to school with George Washington Carver.

Just how many ways can you push or click for more options? Just as the light bulb and peanut butter has been with us for centuries, Mr. Automated will continue to use machines that control systems and information to optimize Air Force productivity to deliver services for our now and future force.

Yet while Mr. Automated is smart, he cannot know and do everything. He too has body parts that help in his functionality, like the heart also known as "PIPS/eFinance."

I will admit to you that I have taken five trips to the finance office inquiring about my travel voucher, and most of these repeat trips were due to my own mistakes, but I have never dealt with an automated finance system before and when I read that email of rejection I about lost it. But being a good Airmen and first sergeant, I gave PIPS/eFinance a hug and asked him what was wrong and to my surprise he answered me. Turns out I trusted the process but didn't verify with him and I had botched the system. In the end, he helped me find charges I failed to submit and I gave him another hug knowing that my GTC would be fully covered.

Reality is that automation is here to stay and even if you're old school like me, you might as well embrace it and learn it. This Air Force is now a net generation and is all about talking, collaborating and engaging in ways many senior noncommissioned officers have never done before.

However, there is good news ... we can become digital immigrants. This doesn't mean we'll be the most technically savvy Airmen in our units; we want to put our emotions out on some blog post and we might not be able to text five people at the same time while talking on the phone but ... we have learned the art of verifying.

Through experience we know the system doesn't get it right all the time and it will always be in a state of re-development just like the over welling choices of peanut butter and the vast selection of light bulbs.

Just remember that your career is just that, your career and automation waits for no one so, embrace it, trust it, and most importantly verify it and in the end it will never win and you will never lose.